What would cause an Alzheimer's patient to be more tired than usual?

A fellow caregiver asked...

In the last couple of weeks I have noticed a growing tiredness in my Alzheimer's client. He too has noticed and asked me what could be causing it. So, Help! What is causing him to become more tired than usual, and is there anything I can do besides have him nap more? He is in the Mid-Moderate stages. About a week ago, I noticed for the first time a chunk of time that was gone - The morning meal and conversation before his nap was completely forgotten. Is this an alert for me? What should I be looking for and/or doing at this stage?

Expert Answer

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

Tiredness and Alzheimer's disease (AD) frequently go hand-in-hand and have several reasons as the cause for this occurrence. Fortunately some of the causes are reversible. 1. The first is medication. Not just the use of meds but also the mixture. Many AD folks are particularly susceptible to side effects and often to not process drugs the way someone without AD would. Check with both your primary care physician and your pharmacist to be sure any medications are not the cause of your client's fatigue. Be sure to also ask about over-the-counter meds and any supplements he may be taking. 2. Secondly, be sure your client has a regular schedule of things to do during the day. Keeping busy and feeling productive are positive ways to combat the feeling of fatigue. Engage him in tasks, simple chores, and previous hobbies. You can simplify any of these to fit his skill level. For instance, a person who completed 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles before AD, can still do them if the number of pieces is reduced to compensate for the changes in processing information. 3. Thirdly, include some sort of outside activity in his daily routine whenever possible. Fresh air and sunshine have been shown to promote good sleep patterns for this particular population while outdoor exercise is particularly rewarding for an AD person. 4. And finally, do check with his medical people to be sure the root of the problem is not a simple reactive depression. This is a rather common cause of daytime fatigue. He is lucky to have you!